Nicola Galizia was convicted of manslaughter after Tito Traversa fell on incorrectly assembled climbing hardware called quickdraws, resulting in the young climber’s death.
In 2013, Tito Traversa, 12, fell 50 feet from the top of a climb. Eight of his 10 quickdraws failed due to incorrect assembly. He died three days later in the hospital.
The case came to fruition this week as Nicola Galizia, 36, the climbing instructor on site, received a prison sentence of two years. Galizia was also fined €21,000 ($24,716) in judicial expenses.
The young Italian climber Traversa was a rising star. He climbed his first 5.14a at age 10. He had cleanly climbed four routes of the 5.14 grade. Most climbers, including professional sponsored athletes, only dream of this prowess. He ascended routes beyond the realm of all but the most elite athletes.
Tito Traversa’s Death on Climbing Trip
The day of the accident, a group of 10 Italian youth climbers, two parents, and an instructor from their local gym in Ivrea, Italy were climbing in Orpierre, France.
Traversa was warming up on a 5.10b and reached the top of the climb. He began lowering when eight of the 10 quickdraws failed, resulting in a ground fall of roughly 50 feet.
An investigation by French police found the mother of one of the climbers in the group had incorrectly assembled the quickdraws. The rope-end of the quickdraw, where the climber clips into, threaded through the rubber loop that keeps the carabiner in place. It was not threaded through the strong sling that connects the carabiners, capable of holding stout falls.
When Traversa lowered, the rubber bands broke and the climber fell, with nothing to hold him to the wall.
Above is a photo of incorrectly and correctly assembled quickdraws. The left is incorrect, with just the rubber holding the top carabiner on. The right is correct, with the rubber and sling attached to the top carabiner. Photo provided to Grimper Magazine from the French police.
Instructor Galizia Sentenced
The sentence concludes the first part of the tragic case. The judge now has 30 days to explain his decision, and lawyers can decide how to proceed.
Galizia’s sentence was half of the original request of prosecutors. In Italy, a prison sentence of two years usually does not lead to time spent in jail.
Five people were charged with manslaughter in the case. Among those charged were Luca Gianmarco, owner of the climbing gym Traversa visited; Carlo Paglioli, owner of Aludesign, the company that manufactured the rubber part of the quickdraw; the owner of the gear shop that sold the parts of the quickdraw; and two of the adults that were present at the climbing site.
The judge acquitted Gianmarco and Paglioli of the charges.